Mesut/Alexis MOTM | Nacho Perfect | FlamCar in Control: Player Ratings | 8 Positives

Well that was just what the doctor ordered: high tempo, crisp passing, fine combination football and the stars of the show shining at their brightest! Not much time, but here are my eight positives of the game.

  1. Ozil and Sanchez’s energy and creativity were too much for Zagreb: three goals and one assist between them is a very good return for all the hard work. Seeing Ozil score almost twice with his head tells us a lot as well. He is making more runs into the box now to be at the end of a chance rather than only creating them, and that is just what we need currently, as we have been lacking goals from central midfield.
  2. Nacho was awesome, both in defence and in attack. A great assist for Sanchez’s first goal, but he could have had more. What a great wing-back we have in Monreal.
  3. Giroud worked hard to create space and chances for others. He did not score this time round, but he carries so much goal-threat that defenders have to stay with him, and this opened them up for sharp-shooter, Alexis and smooth operator, Ozil.
  4. The Flam-Car DM pivot worked well tonight: they bossed the midfield defensively and made good contributions offensively. Santi offered a lot creativity and pushed the team on from the back: he had a really good game.
  5. Campbell had a great assist and had some good spells, especially at the start of the game. Like the Ox, he tends to drift in and out of the game – the very opposite of the continuously driven Alexis – but he produced the goods when it mattered.
  6. Bellerin had great drive once again and as a result we could use the whole width of the pitch. We were really strong from the wings today and this is due to the creativity, drive and speed of the full backs and our ‘midwingers’ Alexis and Campbell.
  7. A clean sheet was very welcome, even though our defending was not always top notch. Something to build on now, and I hope Arsene will play the same back four and Cech against Norwich.
  8. The return of Ramsey was very welcome. He clearly looked rusty but coming on with no pressure and just being able to ease himself back into the first team will have done him good. In hindsight, I am glad Wenger did not start him.

Man of the match was SanOzil: both Sanchez and Ozil were magnificent and it would be wrong to choose between them on tonight’s performances.

Ratings (1-10):

Cech: 8 | Solid close save at the end of the game/ calm and in control.

Bellerin: 7.5 | Very driven going forward, one or two defensive mishaps

BFG: 7 | Calm and controlled, kept it simple and effective

Koz: 7.5 | Full of drive and healthy aggression – best game in a while

Nacho: 8.5 | Great runs and balls into the box – solid at the back too

Flam: 7.5 | Solid and confident – allowed others to play and good interceptions when we lost the ball

Cazorla: 8 | Good partnership with Flamini and a creative force all over the pitch

Ozil: 9 | Great on the pitch leadership and he made the team dance with his fine runs, fabulous control of the ball and passes – scored the all-important first goal

Alexis: 9 | Two goals and a fine assist – never gave up fighting and his link up play with Ozil was a joy to watch

Giroud: 7.5 | No goals or assist but did a lot of dirty work today to create space and opportunities for others

Campbell: 7.5 | Periods of great drive and creativity in which he takes the game to the opponent – need to become more consistent, but fine, fine through-ball for Sanchez’s second goal

By TotalArsenal.

33 thoughts on “Mesut/Alexis MOTM | Nacho Perfect | FlamCar in Control: Player Ratings | 8 Positives

  • Good match report TA,

    I have yet to watch any highlights or the full game so i am not able to comment on anything, but your match report sums up how we outclassed our opponents at home.

    Seeing your headline, i thought that you would give Nacho a perfect 10, but reading on i was wrong. So some editing needed?

    Bring on Norwich.


  • Speedy fine post. Thanks TA.

    The boys travelled in a car not fitted with a hand brake. That’s my dream car. Great that the absence of le Coq wasn’t felt. Maybe with Flam, Chambers and a sprinkling of Arteta we might be able to get by in Coq’s absence. When I close my eyes I do see Chambers as much better at DM than at CD. If fact my vision says he will make a quality DM. Don’t get me wrong – a half dozen more class DMs is very compatible with my appetite.

    I must confess l never knew I would ever see this level of quality from Camp B. One area where am fully convinced Wenger is so much greater than me, is in his patience v mine. I get trounced each time.

    Last night’s game has resuscitated my hope. Am l fickle? Not for being up today, but for being down before the opening blast of last night’s whistle.

  • Another positive was the boom boom nature of our first two goals. Just four minutes between them and it’s not the first time this has happened either this season…

  • What Santi does for the team, imo, is so much more than is generally appreciated. When he has a bad day (which isn’t often) the performance of the team drops more dramatically, than when any other player has a poor outing. He is the soul of our team, the orchestrator of our play. I will rate him 9 for last night. May the treatment table never smell him.

  • TA,
    Unconsciously we might now all be modeling the ultimate DM in the image of le Coq. Chambers looks to me as a half-destroyer-half- creator kind of DM……… and that would be a hell of a package.

  • PE, TA,

    Chambers as a DM will be good for his career growth.
    However, it would be bad for Hayden as he is the second young player behind Le Coq.
    Flams is good but he is more of a CM rather than DM.

    TA, 8.5, yes, is good enough, considering the goal scorers are only 0.5 points ahead.
    However, why is he missing 1.5 points?

    Cheers for a good night yesterday,

  • PE, many Gooners rate Santi as high as you do. 17HT, for example, is a huge fan. I reckon he adds value to the team but I am not sure whether we could do better in his position. He adds creativity and threat going forward, but his defending is not great and he doesn’t seem to score for us anymore..

  • A ten is for godly performances, and for that we also need stronger opponents… If he had scored a goal, I would have given Nacho a ten.. 🙂

  • TA,

    I agree with you about Santi being a poor tackler. But remember that in that area of the field good positioning is already half of the defending. Rambo is a better tackler but as a defender he is rather too keen to get involved with play and that reduces his positional discipline.

    Again, high pressing is so much part of the modern game and Rambo hasn’t got Santi’s quick feet for handling tight spaces. Jack has, and that is why, for me, it is a choice between Santi and Jack.

    I see Rambo as a player with pure offensive mentality but whose stupendous engine and love to be involved makes him available to participate defensively. That is how I will wish him utilized. Any position in the MF front 3. Best at No. 10. But Ozil is there at the moment.

    Rambo is not a finished article yet, and playing him wide right might help in giving him more positional disciple which is about the weakest link in his game.

  • Hi fellas… Cheers TA for getting a match report out so quickly… I can’t see a lot with which to argue…

    Having missed the first 10 minutes I almost feel like I missed the whole match–if there was one! What I mean is that the opponent looked already defeated by the time I settled in. We had the ball, were building pressure at their end and they looked very half-hearted going forward in the rare moments they got it. Maybe they already knew the best they could do was win a couple of corners and that they had nobody on the team who could deliver a decent ball from there… It was weird…

    Finally, when they did move forward we broke on them with incredible ease and got the two goals. It’s tougher than all that, of course, and you do very well to point out Giroud’s really fine work off the ball. His run to the near post left Messy (Ozil) wide open for the first goal, for example.

    Being so wrong as I was about the rotation plans of the manager suggests that he’s feeling the pressure. Perhaps the idea is to rotate more away from the home stadium. We’ll see at Norwich on Sunday. After that we have a full week off before Sunderland at home and then the quicker turnaround to the showdown with Olympiakos in Greece. If it’s anything like the match we played with them in our stadium there should be plenty of chances for both teams to score some goals. As such, if we can just avoid leakage at the back we’ve got every chance to win by a couple and avoid the Europa League football in the spring…

    One at a time, of course…

  • The debate about who should slot in for Le Coq is an interesting one…and, no suprise, I think TA is too harsh on Santi. I also think PE explains it well… Positioning and ball skills go a long way to being very effective in the center of the park. Santi is very strong with both of those elements which means his extreme lack of physicality is less of an issue. Against lesser opponents he can work with guys like Flamini and Chambers and–together–they can do a lot to force play wide and then break it up, start breaks for us, etc. when it comes back inside. PE is also correct that Ramsey tends to take those extra touches which can become really dangerous when they’re in central areas in our half of the pitch… It would be good if ANY of them could put the ball on target when they have only the keeper to beat (i.e., like last Saturday with Santi’s penalty)…

    That’s my take on players I actually see in action. I have no idea if I should believe Isaac Hayden is an answer or not an answer as I haven’t been watching him. If you have, JK (or anybody else…), please (please…) tell us about it. I don’t even know the details of his loan deal. It seems weird to keep insisting that he’s the next in line (on the evidence I’ve got…), but, like I suggest, maybe others know more than I do…

    Frankly, to compete in the various competitions (league title, CL elims–fingers crossed, and defending our FA Cup) I think we will need to add a quality body to improve in this area in January. I’ll trust our management (including our scouts…) to identify players who might be able to step in (even if it’s somebody out on loan). Ramsey, Flamini and the Ox can all play in that part of the pitch but seem fitness risks if they too try to win those fifty fifties or do more than their share of hard running… I’ve never heard of ligament damage being a 6 week injury so I’m of the mind that Le Coq is more or less done for the season, much as Arteta is done for this season and very likely all seasons in the future… 😦

    To me, this means we either spend (big) in January and/or we get more radical in terms of tactics from match to match, essentially playing a 3rd CB at the rear of MF (Chambers or Gabriel) or playing an attacking mid in that spot (Ramsey, Jack, Ox). Let’s not forget anybody with any sort of reputation we might look to buy will likely be cup-tied in Europe, so these sorts of ideas might have to be employed against any (and all) continental opponents…

    What the hell do I know?… Overall, the panic over the Coquelin and Arteta injuries and the (massive and definitive) finger pointed at the manager for not buying in the summer, is very likely (IMO) over-stated, but it also makes things far less simple. None of the ‘solutions’ are ideal but that’s to be expected. On the other hand, they might just work out OK and maybe other elements (i.e., can we outscore–or out defend–the opponents match over match…) have an effect as well…

    We shall see…

  • PE, for me it is Aaron’s allroundedness that makes him so suitable for the box to box midfield role next to the more traditional DM. His engine is key here, and his ability to defend weighs more than Santi’s superior ability to wiggle out of tight spaces imo. Santi relies a lot on his fellow central midfielder to do the DM work, whereas both Ramsey and Jack can hold their own. From a creativity point of view it works brilliantly of course, as Ozil has a real companion in Santi when it comes to making the play.

  • Hi 17HT 🙂

    Agreed Zagreb did not offer great resistance, even though they started brightly. I thought the high tempo and desire to win this game helped to make it look easy. Both Ozil and Alexis were the drivers for this, supported by the wall of FlamZola and the fab full backs. Key was also to score the second so soon after the first one.

    I don’t think Wenger will rotate in the CL when the pressure is on, especially at home. These games are big events for the main sponsors, especially those that pay for the boxes, and the big guns need to be on display.

  • HT,
    I buy your idea of our getting more radical with out tactics at least between now and the January window. Your suggestion of ” essentially a 3rd CB ” excites me. The CoCa combinations was more of a destroyer/creator combo. Essentially that was 3 CB, only that one of them was slightly ahead shielding the other two. This system was successful because of one man ~ Santi Carzola. That man is still very much around and that is why I believe that Gab or even Chambers can be effective as our DM at least in the interim. Brake up the play and simply hand the ball over to the little magician.

    TA, there isn’t the slightest doubt about Rambo’s allroundedness. But mentality wise he is an attacking beast. That is why I’d rather he is positioned in a more offensive territory with his huge engine overflowing into the more defensive areas instead of the other way round.

  • Hey TA… Well, I think we can both agree AW certainly won’t rotate for that last group match in Athens… 😀 Also it sounds like I missed the critical part of the match, those first 10 minutes… Route choice, traffic and parking in San Francisco just didn’t go quite to plan for me… 😦 Surely somebody should be fired!…

    TA & PE… Using Ramsey’s great engine in central MF makes sense (to me) but I do believe it comes at a price… He’s just a little bit looser with his touches than Santi or Le Coq, which can be devastating if they fall kindly to an opponent. For Olympiakos I’d put Rambo at RW and Flamini next to Santi in the middle…

    Overall, I believe these DM positions have less to do with traditional defensive playmaking skills and abilities, including size, jumping prowess, etc., and more to do with tactical awareness and skills/abilities with the ball at your feet. Santi (like Arteta before him) may not be so great at putting the ball in the net any longer but the passing, working the ball out of (and away from) trouble and knowing when to put a boot through it (often to a teammate on the break) are strong. As such, moving into this position at this later point in his career works for me. I know I can write a thousand more words on the topic but still fail to convince you… 😦 What’s a fella to do?…

    Theoretically, this *should* work better in Europe where the refs *might* offer a bit more protection to the technical types…and less so in our domestic play where keeping the match moving seems at such a premium… Maybe when I’m back up in Tahoe (or if I’ve got some downtime over the holiday here) I could turn it into a post…

    As it is, I gotta get my turkey into a brine and otherwise get myself rolling…

    Finally, 2 things: 1) That video with T. Henry is fun stuff and 2) you forgot the 9th positive… No new injuries (I’m pretty sure)… 😀

  • All good arguments, Seventeenho. I appreciate the importance of the traditional DM stuff a bit more, I think. Re Ramsey, even if he loses the ball, he is usually quick, canny and skilled enough to retrieve it. Santi is a better passer of the ball, especially through balls (although Rambo can do this too), and that is why he is picked right now. And Rambo is a better mid wing player than Santi, so Wenger has everybody as happy as he can get them.

  • Tactical master class on defending – all over the pitch – by Cocu in Manchester. 17HT, what do you know about Cuadrado the Mexican midfielder?

  • Hey TA, will send you an e-mail…

    Andres Guardado has been probably the most solid midfielder for Mexico over the past 8 years and, along with (goalkeeper) Memo Ochoa had some of the nicest curly hair… I have fears for his hair these days, however. I think he bounced around at some mid-level Spanish clubs over most of career before landing at PSV a couple of seasons ago. I remember reading about the him on the plane when we last visited Mexico which was the Spring of 2014…

    Did he play well today? Too busy with other stuff to watch any of the footy myself…

  • Thanks. He really impressed. Both technically and tactically he was superb: best player on the pitch. Schneiderlin on the other hand played well below par.

  • Guys, i am not sure if Van Gaal is the manager that brings the best out of his team.

    I forsee another massive exodus of his midfield players unless he gets the tactics right, and the players play what they do best.

    Yes, we have similar issues, but most players are comfortable with how we play and they even tried different positions that helps lift the team.

    So something is lacking there?
    Ok, i do not like looking at manu** and the team, so i am open to opinions.

    A cloudy and rainy day here, so i wanted some sunlight from this blog 🙂


  • Schneiderlin, now there’s a shame…

    Van Gaal is killing his career and we could really do with a player of his quality right now….

  • Njk, am not too keen on discussing the MU situation in too much depth right now, but feel free to share your views with us in the new post.. 🙂

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